Greater Oklahoma City is in the geographic center of North America equidistant from the east and west coasts and major trade partners of Canada and Mexico. The ten county region is at the crossroads of the U.S., sitting at the heart of three major national highways on the NAFTA corridor.
There's a reason Greater Oklahoma City is such a great place for business: Location. The ten county region is positioned within a day's drive of the rapidly-growing south-central region (OK, TX, AR, LA) projected to grow more than 44% during the next 25 years.
Noting low costs of living and good jobs, Forbes named Oklahoma City America's Most Affordable City.
At the height of the Great Recession, Forbes.com said Oklahoma City was the most recession-proof city in the country. Two and a half years later, the magazine has given the city another top ranking.
Noting low costs of living and good jobs, Forbes named Oklahoma City as America's Most Affordable City.
The magazine also noted Oklahoma City's friendly residents and an unemployment rate well below the national average, 6.3 percent compared to 9.5 percent.
"We searched for cities that had a balance of cheap living and economic prosperity - places with solid job markets, but where costs aren't prohibitive," magazine editors said. "In these cities, costs have stayed down, but residents have held onto steady incomes and decent jobs, making them a true bargain."
Forbes looked at all metropolitan statistical areas with populations of at least 100,000. They were ranked on the cost of a basket of goods and services, including groceries, health care and transportation, as of the second quarter of 2010.
The magazine also measured the monthly cost of housing as a percentage of household income.
The average sale price of an Oklahoma City-area home in September was $158,755, up 6.7 percent from September 2009, and the median price was $135,000, up 4.8 percent, according to the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors.
The next four spots on the Forbes list went to Pittsburgh; Buffalo, N.Y.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Nashville, Tenn. The top 10 also includes three Texas cities: San Antonio, Houston and Austin, along with Louisville, Ky., and Birmingham, Ala.
"State capitals and university towns have vibrancy because of their job base, the stability of jobs and cultural diversification," said James Gaines, a research economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
The ranking was the latest in a string of kudos for Oklahoma City. In October, Oklahoma City was named a Top 25 Performing City by the Milken Institute, No. 7 Best City for Income Growth by Portfolio.com, a Top 5 Fastest Growing City by Forbes and a Top 10 State for Doing Business by Area Development Magazine.
"In times like these, value is key to everything we do as a chamber," said Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. "From attracting new business, retaining and fostering growth with our current companies to attracting conventions and visitors, the number one factor on everyone's mind is value. Affordability isn't always about being the cheapest, it is also about the quality you get for your dollar."
The Boeing Co. recently announced plans to move 550 high-paying engineering jobs here. The company cited low costs of living and doing business and economic development incentives in the decision to move the jobs from Long Beach, Calif.
OKLAHOMA CITY - Despite the stormy economy, the business jet industry continues to fly at Wiley Post Airport.
"Our traffic count is basically the same as last year, which is incredible to me," said Tim Whitman, general aviation manager for Wiley Post Airport. "Things are definitely flying high."
The airport's primary runway was closed for a portion of this year due to construction.
"That actually tells me if we hadn't had the construction we might have had an increase," said Whitman. "We are very fortunate."
Wiley Post Airport, in northwest Oklahoma City, is the home base for nearly 400 aircraft, including single-engine planes and corporate jets. More than 80,000 flights were logged last year.
It's one of three airports owned and operated by the Oklahoma City Department of Airports. Wiley Post is designated as a reliever for Will Rogers World Airport.
"Our role is to support corporate business and general aviation," said Whitman. "We are here to support Will Rogers. But we have our own personality and niche market that works."
In the past five years more than $20 million has been invested in airport improvements. Money for the projects comes from the Oklahoma City Airport Trust, private development, and federal and state grants.
At the north end of the airport, construction is under way on a hangar that will include infrastructure support for runways and taxiways.
Mark Kranenburg, director of airports, said the airport trust recognized the need to provide more hangars, specifically for corporate customers.
But tough economic times have produced a bumpy ride for the aviation industry. Domestic and international business jet usage was down 30 percent in March and 30 percent for the first quarter of 2009, according to a report by UBS Securities analyst David Strauss.
"Demand has slowed somewhat due to the economy," said Kranenburg. "But we continue to develop that property out there to be ready when the demand comes back."
Whitman said Wiley Post Airport's high traffic count confirms the airport is still a vital economic engine for the community.
"We haven't noticed the effects of the slowdown of the economy like the East and West Coast," said Whitman. "I think the market is still strong for Oklahoma City for aviation."
Wiley Post also offers maintenance and refurbishment services.
Whitman said many people are choosing refurbishment and maintenance work on their aircraft rather than selling it to buy a new one.
While there is a misconception business jets are used only for the rich and famous, Whitman said for some companies it's a practical part of their business model.
"To be able to get in and out of places can affect their bottom line and productivity," he said. "It definitely serves as a business tool."
Whitman said the airport will chart growth, even if market conditions force operations to soften a bit.
Airport development is scheduled for completion in about a year.
"That will enhance our corporate and business partnerships," he said. "I think we will continue to be a big player in the economic development of Oklahoma City."